Keeping the Main Thing ...

You may hear people talk about "mission statement".  Mission statement is a corporate buzz phrase for making up your mind on "who" your operation will be. Your have heard the old cliche, "do not try to be all things to all people".  Many operators have made the mistake to try to re-arrange their mission statement midstream to build sales (or to recapture lost sales). These same operators always find out after a time that they need to "get back to basics" to be successful.

Friends of ours offered to take my wife and I for breakfast to a local Diner type operation. This place is one of those national chains that you see in most major cities. The chain had developed a national media campaign to brag to the public how they have upgraded their image and now offer an even stronger value. Our reason for selecting that particular restaurant that morning was strictly a location issue. It was on the way to the Dallas Car Show where we were planning to sp…

What is Quality Anyway - Groceries?

The first premise that you must always keep on mind is that nothing is free. When you see a difference in distributor prices between like items there are only a few possibilities. If you are a “street account*" (no program) the difference in price may be sales person manipulation. However, for program accounts*, that price difference could be pack size, “further processing”, grade or product size.
Like it or not getting the “best price” needs your time and effort. Every product category has its own set of rules. For instance, canned green beans. Most operators think that a #10 can of green beans is a #10 can of green beans. Most distributors have up to four levels of “quality”. Some use a color scale, green, blue, yellow pack etc. Sysco uses Reliant, Classic, Supreme and Imperial. Some operators say that they would never buy Reliant because it must be garbage. Other say that they only buy the best so they buy Supreme or Imperial (if that product is available in Imperial).  Here a…

What is Quality Anyway? Seafood

In my opinion, other than the ware wash chemical business, the fresh seafood business is the most deceptive industry out there. Having fresh seafood on your menu can be the most challenging food product category you have. I was the President of the Food Service division of a large Seafood processor / distributor. I only lasted 18 months. Once I saw the amount of bait and switch, I could not look myself in the mirror. The reality is that the FDA only regulates the seafood industry for safety. Unlike the USDA who not only monitors wholesomeness, it rates beef quality by grade. You know what you are getting. When a seafood operator finds that the market loves “snapper” it just makes names up. Years ago, “Snapper” was actually a species called American Gulf Red Snapper. It was over fished and at one time it was illegal to commercially fish in the Gulf. The closest legal species is called Drum. But the industry now has “Pacific Snapper” which is actually Rock Fish. It eats well but it is …

What is Quality anyway? Chicken

Can Quality actually be concisely defined? Absolutely.  When it comes to creating a menu or specifically a menu item, the ingredients you decide to use are as important as your talent in preparing the dish.
In a past Regional position I had 64 chefs in my Region. The Private Clubs that we had varied in concept from small concession-based food operations to high end dining clubs with white glove service. So, the type of chefs ranged from promoted Sous Chefs to well-trained senior level culinary artists. However, one thing I found that was true was regardless of level, most chefs did not know the level of “quality” that was available for many ingredients.
One way to avoid making a quality error was to just buy the “best”. Based on the customer ticket average, the real high-end clubs were getting such high prices for their entrĂ©es the could afford the “best” of everything. It was the middle and lower end clubs that struggled with food cost.
Here is an example. One club would never buy f…

What is Quality anyway? Beef

Can Quality actually be concisely defined? Absolutely.When it comes to creating a menu or specifically a menu item, the ingredients you decide to use are as important as your talent in preparing the dish. How about beef? What the hell is Angus anyway? Why is the Angus breed considered so much better than the others? I was lucky to have toured a Lamb slaughter house, a Pig slaughter house and a Beef slaughterhouse.Did you know that there actually is a “sacrificial Lamb”? It is the pack leader and they paint a big red X on his back and all of the others actually follow him to the slaughter. Anyway, it was truly a learning experience. In regard to beef, the US Government does much of the “quality” sorting for us. All Beef processors have USDA representatives on site to verify safe and correctly rated beef.This tour was sponsored by one of the largest beef processors in the US. The reason for the visit was to educate me and the two Regional Chefs that I worked with on why “Angus” could …